Sunday, July 05, 2020

Bookclub Suggestions

I will use this post to add some interesting books outside the usual topics of the blog that might be of interest for discussion. I will mostly add books that have some relevance to topics in the research areas being discussed in the blog but with wide leeway. I am not sure I will organise any actual book clubs but it is definitely good to discuss books with people so at least this will be a start.

Murakami: Underground: This book outlines in detail the 1995 Tokyo subway attacks, examining the impact on many people caught up in the events during the day. Murakami, in particular, points to understanding the scarring effects of these events as a motivation to conduct his interviews. The book is somewhere between a work of journalism and a work of social science and humanities. Murakami outlines in detail in the first chapters his strategy for contacting the various interviewees and discusses the reasons for refusal and potential implications for his narrative.
In this haunting work of journalistic investigation, Haruki Murakami tells the story of the horrific terrorist attack on Japanese soil that shook the entire world. On a clear spring day in 1995, five members of a religious cult unleashed poison gas on the Tokyo subway system. In attempt to discover why, Haruki Murakmi talks to the people who lived through the catastrophe, and in so doing lays bare the Japanese psyche. As he discerns the fundamental issues that led to the attack, Murakami paints a clear vision of an event that could occur anytime, anywhere.
Lanier: Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now: I enjoyed this book a lot. The extent to which digital platforms are exploiting cognitive biases and huge amounts of personalised data to profit at the expense of the quality of the public sphere is obviously one of the defining issues of the age and Lanier writes from a high degree of experience in this world and with a strong psychological awareness. The ethics of influence is one of the main topics of this blog and it would be great to discuss Lanier's points through this lense.
You might have trouble imagining life without your social media accounts, but virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier insists that we’re better off without them. In Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, Lanier, who participates in no social media, offers powerful and personal reasons for all of us to leave these dangerous online platforms. Lanier’s reasons for freeing ourselves from social media’s poisonous grip include its tendency to bring out the worst in us, to make politics terrifying, to trick us with illusions of popularity and success, to twist our relationship with the truth, to disconnect us from other people even as we are more “connected” than ever, to rob us of our free will with relentless targeted ads. How can we remain autonomous in a world where we are under continual surveillance and are constantly being prodded by algorithms run by some of the richest corporations in history that have no way of making money other than being paid to manipulate our behavior? How could the benefits of social media possibly outweigh the catastrophic losses to our personal dignity, happiness, and freedom? Lanier remains a tech optimist, so while demonstrating the evil that rules social media business models today, he also envisions a humanistic setting for social networking that can direct us toward a richer and fuller way of living and connecting with our world. 

No comments: